Monday, April 16, 2012

Easter Bread

  Yes, I know that Easter was like three months ago, but I've been running behind on posting things. The grass and sunflowers have taken over my garden, the ants smell my veggies and are trying to take up residence, and I'm starting to see grasshoppers. I've been a little busy outside. Most days I've been going out to work in the garden at 7:30 when the kids leave for school and not sitting down in the house until after dark. (Thanks so much Pa for the solar powered lights in the garden and greenhouse. No, really. Thanks. You're a peach.)
  So, I haven't had time for much of anything except back pain and cursing under my breath. But before that, I did take some time off to work on my Easter contribution. I made the bread and the macaroni and cheese. The cheese for the macaroni was made by me from our Brindle milk (our dairy cow). I'm glad I did some practice on the Easter bread because I learned a lot from my practice run.
  The first try I made french bread dough, formed it into an egg shape and wrapped a bread braid around the center as a decoration. I then painted the bread. One thing I learned is that braids don't help a shape. The braid took away from the egg shape. I also learned some tips on painting the bread - specifically what didn't work. Here was my first go round:

I probably would have been happy with it if I hadn't put the braid on, but the coloring didn't turn out too well. By the time it was done baking, the yellow had browned up.
  So, Plan B.

Pa had been trying to get me to make a basket out of bread for awhile now and I kept putting it off because it seemed like too much work. It was too much work, but my Dad had a fit about it so in the end I was glad I'd gone to the trouble.

This is how I made the basket:

I made french bread dough because it rises less that regular bread dough. I wish I had made two batches of the dough, that would have made it easier and I could have made the basket a little bigger which would have looked nicer. I also skipped the second rise for the dough.  I used my rolling pin and on a lightly floured surface, I rolled the dough into a rectangle. I then cut the dough into long strips. I based the length of my strips on the basket size I was going for. In this case, I used a loaf pan that I turned upside down. After spraying the pan with butter spray (so the bread didn't stick), I laid the first strip down the middle of the pan. The next strip crossed that one in the middle. I then weaved each strip, one at a time, through the strips that were laying on the loaf pan. I went in a circle in the manner of placing the strips so that each side was even in length as the other side. I wasn't sure when my strips would run out, so I wanted it to be even. After all the strips were placed, I did my best to twist the ends together, sometimes the ends just got pinched together. The loaf pan with the bread covering it was put on a cookie sheet and baked. The inside of the basket cooked slower than the outside, so after the outside of the basket was done, I unmolded it and placed it in a 9 x 13 baking dish right side up and continued to bake. I hope this makes sense. I'm sorry I didn't take any pictures, I forgot. I got so carried away with trying to weave the strips that I completely forgot about my camera that was about 2 feet away.

The mini Easter eggs were made out of a simple roll dough. You could use any roll recipe you like. The trick is that when you shape the eggs, you really have to exaggerate the egg shape. The eggs that had the most elongated points were the ones that turned out the best after the second rise and bake. I changed how I painted the loaves along with my paint recipe and I think it turned out great.

How do ya like my Tecate can by the bread? Yeah, I was stressing. It took longer to paint and bake the bread than I had thought so I was scrambling as people started showing up. I painted most of the bread, but Kylie, Zach, and Wyatt helped some too. They had a great time with it.

Cute, huh?

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